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Kim Dae-jung Meets with US Deputy Secretary of State

People’s Daily, Wednesday 11 December 2002

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, on Tuesday, called for substantial measures by South Korea and the United States to prevent a recurrence of such incidents as the killing of two Korean school girls by a US armored vehicle.

He called for improvements to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), according to a news release by the Presidential Office.

Kim Dae-jung made the calls at a meeting with visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in the Presidential Office, said the Presidential Office spokeswoman, Park Sun-sook.

Kim told Armitage: The tragic deaths of the school girls was agreat shock and caused much sorrow for the people. However, we will have to tackle the issue carefully so the incident will not have an adverse impact on the fundamentals of the Korea-US relationship.

The SOFA, adopted in 1966, has been revised twice, but many South Koreans believe it still favors the Americans.

In response, Armitage said one of the most important purposes of his visit here is to deliver once again the US government’s sorrow and a sincere apology for the deaths of the girls, to the South Koreans. He expressed hope that his visit would provide a chance to let South Koreans know that the United States respects them.

Anti-US sentiment soared recently throughout South Korea because of the acquittal by a US military court of two US soldiers whose heavy military vehicle crushed the two local girls to death on June 13.

On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear issue, Armitage said that Washington has enough time to settle the DPRK nuclear issue through diplomatic channels.

Mentioning Washington’s campaign against Iraq, Kim said his government would actively support the efforts of the United Statesin solving the issue.

The senior US official arrived here Tuesday for a two-day visitas a part of his four Asia-Pacific nations tour.

He ended his first stop in Japan on Dec. 8-9, and was to leave for China for another two-day visit on Dec. 11-12. The last leg of Armitage’s trip will take him to Australia’s capital Canberra on Dec. 13-14.